At the start of November, the estimated adoption rate of iOS 9.1 was nearly 67% (according to official App Store Distribution release). The figure is impressive, and in keeping with the fast start that the iOS 9 platform has got off to. The number of iPhone users worldwide making the move to iOS 9 and its update has increased by nearly 10% between the 5 October – 2 November time-span. The iOS 9.2 update is also in the offing – and although no official date of its release has yet been announced, Apple seeded the fourth beta of iOS 9.2 three weeks back. Here are some interesting new features that would be present in the latest iteration of iOS 9:
- Better 3D Touch – There have been reports about the 3D Touch feature of iOS 9.1 not being as smooth and efficient as it should have been. Mobile software and iOS app developers fully expect Tim Cook’s team to address this issue in the upcoming update. In particular, the problems in 3D Touch on iPhone 6S Plus – which have cropped up mainly due to the higher pixel count of the device – will be resolved. Once upgraded, handsets will be able to gauge the nature and extent of pressure applied on the display screen in a much more efficient manner.
- Third-party app extensions on Safari – This one will give a boost to both the web browsing experience as well as mobile app usage of iPhone owners. iOS 9.2 will bring in a new pop-up window in Safari, with complete support for external application extensions. In addition, the rough edges in the Viewer Control have also been ironed out. With the new update, web support on the latest flagship iPhones will become more streamlined and well-managed. There will be an edge swipe option as well.
- App switching support for iPad Air – iOS 9.1 is a fairly decent update (unlike the bug-ridden update that was iOS 8.1). However, general users as well as iPhone app development experts have been able to pinpoint certain glitches in it – among which the laggy app switch support on iPad Air is a glaring one. Fortunately, this problem has been brought to notice, and will be rectified by the Cupertino company in the iOS 9.2 update. The overall interface is going to be more immersive and fluid, providing: a) users the opportunity to use apps more easily, and b) developers to come up with newer and better iPad applications.
- Content Blockers without reload – This one is an interesting add-on fix for Safari in iOS 9.2. Users will finally get the option to reload pages online, without having to go through the troubles of disabling Content Blockers. This can be done by performing a long press on the ‘Reload’ tab in the Safari View Controller. Not a game-changing feature of iOS 9.2 – but a definite indication that Apple is striving to make its newest mobile platform more user-friendly.
- NumberSync service on AT&T – If the last one was not a big change, this one definitely is. Software analysts and iOS app developers have already talked about how Apple is trying to integrate its mobile ecosystem better, and with iOS 9.2, the company has taken another step in that direction. Those with iPhone 6S/6S Plus on the AT&T carrier will be able to access and make use of the NumberSync system. The service allows all AT&T smart devices (tablets, phones and even smartwatches) to be connected by a single, secure phone number. This, in turn, makes it easy to reply to messages or respond to calls on one device from another connected handset. Sprint and T-Mobile users won’t be getting NumberSync, however.
- Siri will understand Arabic – The family of languages of supported by Siri – the mobile digital assistant on iPhones – will receive a new member with the release of iOS 9.2. Last year when iOS 8 was launched, Apple had introduced Arabic support on both QuickType as well as Keyboard Dictation – and with the soon-to-release iteration of iOS 9, Siri would support Arabic as well (taking the total number of languages supported by Siri up to 18). According to industry insiders and experts from leading mobile app agencies, one of the key reasons for including Arabic as a ‘Siri language’ is the series of new Apple retail outlets at Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It is expected that the sale of iOS devices will get a lift in these cities, once Arabic arrives on Siri.
- Better audio streaming – Another slight hitch with the iOS 9.1 update was the lag in audio streaming on stereo devices. With iOS 9 putting stability and usability as its primary focus, it is natural to expect that such problems will no longer be present on handsets upgraded to iOS 9.2. Audio streaming to stereo systems will be faster, lossless and a lot smoother. The general sound quality of iPhones will probably get a lift too.
- Wi-fi calling on iCloud – This is an extension of the expected arrival of NumberSync on upgraded AT&T iPhones. Reviewers of the latest smartphones and mobile operating systems from Apple have confirmed that users will now be able to activate wi-fi calling on all devices that are inter-connected in iCloud. After upgrading to iOS 9.2, NumberSync can be set up by tapping on Settings → Phone → Wi-fi Calling → Add Wi-fi Calling For Other Devices. The wireless calling feature will get activated, and connected Mac systems will receive a real-time identification (FaceTime). Once that is clicked, a code will appear, and that will have to be entered on the paired iPhone.
- Multiple swipe feature on Safari – Yet another indication that Apple is trying to make the Safari browser on iOS 9.2 devices more powerful and efficient than ever before. The existing lags on iOS 9 and 9.1-powered phones would, hopefully, disappear – and what’s more, users will be able to make multiple swipe gestures quickly. Early reports from beta testers and Apple app developers have confirmed that the new swipe gestures indeed make navigation and browsing significantly smoother on Safari.
- Syncing with Apple Watch – Some reports related to iOS 9.1 suggested that a section of users faced problems while syncing their iPhone 6S (or upgraded earlier models) with Apple Watch. With watchOS 2 and iOS 9.2, this is yet another issue that will soon get resolved. Watch is still heavily dependent for many of its functions on paired iPhones – and the problem-free syncing would surely be a delight for users. WatchKit app developers would also get the opportunity to create better, more user-friendly apps for Apple Watch.
- Improved iCloud Keychain usability – In November, app developers received a fair few bug reports associated with the iCloud Keychain. The 2nd major iOS 9 update (incidentally, iOS 9.2 will be the 5th update overall of the iOS 9 platform) will solve this as well. Since its debut on iOS 7 in 2013, iCloud Keychain has increasingly grown in popularity as a secure database for passwords and other important personal data – and with the bugs of iOS 9.1 removed, it would become all the more usable.
- Viewing apps in the Safari view of other apps – This is a nice little feature that would enhance the convenience of users while operating certain iPhone apps. For instance, in the Safari view of the Twitter application, apps like 1Password and LastPass can be accessed and viewed. It remains to be seen what other native iOS apps support this functionality too.
The iOS 9.2 update will be available for download on iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5 series (including iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C), iPhone 6/6 Plus and, of course, iPhone 6S/6S Plus. The sixth-generation iPod Touch will get it as well, along with iPad Mini 4, iPad 3 and iPad Air 2. It has been close to 50 days since the stable release of iOS 9.1 – and the version has been mostly satisfactory. iOS 9.2 is almost certain to make the iPhone-experience even better.
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